Davy Carton, lead singer of the Saw Doctors, admits that he had a bit of a relationship with Petula Clark, the 1960s pop singer and international music and TV star.
That is if by relationship you mean that he purchased her records and occasionally covered her songs.
Otherwise, Carton said, he and the Saw Doctors, who play the Calvin Theatre in Nortrhampton on Sunday, March 11th had no real link to Clark. Somewhere along the way, though, Clark heard the band's version of her classic megahit "Downtown." (Watch the video below) She suggested the Saw Doctors record it with her, and their recording featuring Clark became their 18th Top 30 hit in Ireland.
"It's such an iconic song," Carton said. "When you record a song like that, you can't go far wrong unless you make a really rubbish job of it."
The Saw Doctors have proved to have staying power at the top of the Irish charts. Their first hit, "I Useta Lover," hit No. 1 in 1990, and "Downtown" reached No. 2 just two months ago. Unlike some of their Irish peers, the Saw Doctors aren't all about rebellion and foot-stomping. Their roots are closer to folk than hardcore rock and perhaps that has contributed to their success across generations.
"We originally started as songwriters," said Carton, one of two original members still with the band that formed in Tuam, County Galway, in 1986. "People seem to like our songs. There's a good test. You ask, ‘Do you like it yourself?' If you do, you keep playing them. If people don't like a song, we try another one."
In the past 20 years, music has certainly changed, yet the Saw Doctors' sound has remained consistent.
"I can't pander to fashion, not at my age," Carton said. "I never would have anyway. I always think, ‘Surely, we'll come back into fashion someday.' "
The band has taken to Facebook and Twitter, which is essentially a requirement for commercial music success. But Carton leaves most of that to his bandmates Leo Moran and Kevin Duffy.
"I'm more of a quill and parchment man myself," he said.
The Saw Doctors have gotten younger recently. Drummer Eimhin Craddock, who was born the year the Saw Doctors formed, has been replaced by 21-year-old Rickie O'Neill. Craddock helped groom O'Neill for the position, and the North American tour will be O'Neill's first major tour with the band.
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